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Interview. We spoke with Fernando Navarro, professor at UNAM in Mexico City, about the candidacy of María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, an indigenous woman running for president.

‘Ya, basta!’ Mexico offers a revolutionary alternative

In less than 10 months, Mexico will hold presidential elections. It’s an important and delicate election round. Whoever wins will have to respond to Trump’s foreign policy and, above all, handle the powder keg of a burgeoning narco-state.

PRI and PAN, the two parties that have alternated in power over the last 17 years, have been elements of continuity and promiscuity between state, economic, legal and illegal powers. Morena, the party founded by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has the potential to be an outsider winner.

But the National Regeneration Movement was largely carved out of another party, the PRD, spurred by government corruption. But many have doubts about the possibility it is a real alternative. On the other hand, there is another element that makes the electoral process revolutionary: María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, nicknamed Marichuy, is a native candidate running as an independent representative of the Indigenous National Congress (acronym in Spanish CNI) in the strings of the EZLN.

Among the supporters of the indigenous council spokeswoman, there are intellectuals and artists from all over Mexico who have set up an association called ”Llegó la hora del florecimiento de los pueblos” (The time has arrived for the people to flourish). This legal entity was required to collect the signatures to make Marichuy’s candidacy real. Among the members of the association there is Fernanda Navarro, university professor at UNAM in Mexico City. We had the opportunity to interview her.

What country is Mexico today?

Today, it is a country different from that of two or three decades ago, especially about violence and insecurity. The majority of the population knows that the root cause is the complicity between government and drug traffickers. That’s why we talk about the narco-state. And our geography does not help. Being so close to the Empire is not easy. There is a famous saying: “Mexico is so far from God yet so close to the U.S.” Every day, we are increasingly subjugated. And racism is still a factor, as it has been since the discovery of America: Native people are still considered inferior and treated differently. They do not have the same rights as the rest of the population. Everything happens silently, the parties do not acknowledge this different treatment.

Why have academics and artists decided to support the independent native candidacy of the ECN, supported by the EZLN?

The CNI proposal is a real alternative. It’s a shock for the majority of Mexicans. It is a new “Ya, basta,” like that of the EZLN back in 1994, but throughout the whole country. Moreover, it’s chosen a woman as spokesperson; more than a candidate, she is the one who gives voice to a path, showing the way forward and recognizing the social drive of feminism. It is fair to remember that we are not pretending to win the 2018 elections, but to give a different option by making visible those who have always been ignored, marginalized and despised. Not only will the forgotten ones have the opportunity, but it also generates a more humane relationship for everybody. Many artists, academicians and intellectuals have understood this possibility, and for this reason we have created the association.

With the birth of the Zapatista movement, we understand that so much has to be learned from the native peoples, our ancestors and their wisdom. Unfortunately, there is no trace of these teachings in the study programs. Certainly, many are criticizing the proposal. Many institutional and corporate representatives, as well as people with high salaries or wages, cannot even conceal their racism against native people. Instead, this is a fresh and creative proposal that has opened a window of hope.

With Fidel’s passing, the proposal of the EZLN and the Venezuelan crisis, does the dream of a Latin American revolution end?

Like everything in history, nothing remains the same forever. Some of us think we are experiencing the change of an era, of an age. It depends on what is our definition of “revolution.” Up until now, the revolutions have been armed. You can also conceive of radical transformations without weapons, avoiding destruction and death. Perhaps in this era of change, it is possible to create new forms of rebellion that are less painful and with more attention to life. All of this is implied in the EZLN and CNI’s proposal, which will go across the country explaining that “another world is possible” and that the world may have a more human face. Even though I’m not an expert in Latin American politics, I think the same can apply in Cuba, Venezuela or Brazil.

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